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Behind the Music
by Christen Press, May 16th, 2013 6:59PM
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TAGS:  americans abroad, sweden, women's national team


[THE PITCH: Blog 11] When I listen to a song on the way to practice, or a match, or just hanging out, I hardly ever contemplate the hours of hard work that went into making the music. I simply roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and cruise. Although there is a perceivable transformation in my disposition, it is driven by a blind devotion to attractive melodies. However, when I watch a live performance, in which the musicians, singers, instruments, and electronics blend before my eyes, the power emanating from the stage triggers a deep emotional reaction, as well as a greater appreciation for the art. Watching football is a lot like that … entertaining, exciting … emotional!  Franklin Foer, who wrote, How Soccer Explains the World said, “Soccer isn't the same as Bach or Buddhism. But it is often more deeply felt than religion, and just as much a part of the community's fabric...” I’ve always felt a link between music and soccer, but I really haven’t taken the time to try and connect the dots ... 

Two things sparked my exploration of the correlation between soccer and song … the first was an interview I had with Christian Brookes, whose blog covers both music and football. The resulting article, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, can be found here:

Also, last week I met with my cousin Clark Gayton in Stockholm. (It’s always amazing to see someone close to me in this foreign, foreign land). Clark, a talented musician, is one year into a four-year world tour with Bruce Springsteen and was in town for a show. I appreciated chatting with my cousin about working with two superstars, (first Sting and now Bruce), as I’ve been fortunate to play with a few superstars myself. Our conversation was the second thing that really got me to thinking about the similarities and differences in great bands in music and great teams in football.

Spring with my dad

There are several similar qualities required for a successful band and a successful team: talent and skill, practice and dedication, tolerance for and management of a nomadic lifestyle, pursuit of harmony, and acceptance of the occasional sour note. Great music is considered Fine Art…and we call a well-played match, “The Beautiful Game.” Although there are some obvious differences (like the fact that I’ve yet to see the conductor sub-out a violinist because he was playing too slowly), one or two stand out the most to me.

Clark told me that there is a major characteristic that Sting and Bruce have in common: super-sized EGOS. (Well, they don’t call the latter “The Boss” for nothing.) Both these mega stars dictate their bands as well as entertain their audiences. Rumor has it that The Boss has said, “I hate a @#$%! with an opinion.”  And, my dad claims to have witnessed Sting strutting around backstage after a show in L.A. wearing a silk smoking jacket with his nose in the air. The music industry is very much star driven. Great singers are center stage. Headliners are “the show” and everyone else is “back up.” In contrast, football is team driven. No matter how much football’s superstars -- even Messi and Ronaldo -- stand out, no matter how big the impact they have on the game, they never go “solo.”

With my cousin Clark

In football, team captains are usually the inglorious center backs who connect with the coach and orchestrate the team. Successful teams accept these reciprocal roles; as cooperation and a “team first” mentality are paramount to winning.

Ahhhh winning…that’s a big differentiating factor in music and football. Although often played in football stadiums, concerts are rarely competitive. As an athlete I have to admit, I love that part of the game…the chance to win! And as soundtracks go, I wouldn’t be the least bit opposed to hearing a tune like …We are the Champions playing after our final home match of Damallsvenskan!

Stockholm's Cherry Blossoms

Stoppage Time:

After our most recent 1-1 tie against Damallsvenskan newcomer Mallbackens IF, my teammate wrote on Twitter: “The war is long and you don’t win or lose until the end.”

It’s almost inevitable that during a 22 game season, every team will hit a little slump. It’s not so usual that that slump happens right in the beginning of the season. There is a good and bad side to this story. The bad side is: well, it’s really frustrating.

The good side is that the process of rebounding from these slumps is what builds team character. And for us to get that chance early on will be a clear advantage, in my opinion. It’s ironic that we’ve been struggling to play as a cohesive unit on the field, when I feel the team is quite in stride in every other way. We all feel it’s not good enough. We all are a little frustrated... with ourselves, and with the team. We all expect more.  And most importantly, we all trust it will get better. I have faith … and it's better to sizzle like the Memphs Grizzlies than fizzle like the LA Clippers.

Final Score: TFF 1 – Mallbackens IF 1

Off The Post!

My dad has an affinity for self-proclaimed nicknames. I have written before about how he has spent my 24 years of life trying to get me to call him Big Daddy… Well, during his most recent visitation, he was at it again. Big Daddy was all too excited for his visit to Sweden when he realized my Spanish roommates gave him an excuse to practice his insuppressible and excruciating Español. After failing to convince everyone that back home he is known, like Bruce Springsteen, as El Jefe… he switched gears and told them that his golf club members nicknamed him “The Fresh Prince” because he was the first African-American member of Bel Air Country Club. Little did he know that las Españolas had taken one look at him and immediately recalled the TV series… So, for my team here in Sweden, he will forever be known as “Felipe!”

"Big Daddy" aka "Felipe!"


Philip Banks (Photo by NBCUPHOTOBANK/Rex Features)


The Fresh Prince

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